Have you ever been stuck on the freeway behind a truck with that follow car waving the banner “Oversized Truck Ahead”? It slows all the traffic. Everyone is afraid to pass. You’re on pins and needles as you edge around it. It’s a lot like that with a Christ-follower who has the “Oversized Self” banner flagging all they do. It just gets hard to see around them … to see around me.
Hearing Pastor Todd’s appeal to “All In” this ministry year from Luke 9:23 called me to consider again my own autonomy (def: independence, a self-governing community). “All in means all out with self” (Todd Smith) … choosing self-denial, self-sacrifice, and self-surrender. Is there ever a time in our lives, a day in our lives, where we don’t need to pursue greater death to self? Um, No!
Following Christ in the freedom of redemption is a call to ditch the oversized self-load by laying all your burdens on Him where His load is light (Matthew 11:28-30). The greatest antidote to the autonomy of being the president of your own little country is being All-In following the Shepherd.
All-In is Abiding
It’s funny how we can think we are getting somewhere in our oversized load of self when actually we’re not making any progress. Jesus taught in John 15:5 that “apart from me you can do nothing”. Following the Master is not merely swapping out the banner of self for the banner of Jesus, it’s far deeper than that. It’s dying to self, to live in Him. We’ll never be free of self until our “vine” dies and we abide in the Vine. I wish this were an easier lesson to learn. Self-government is so natural, so … of the flesh. All-in abiding is of the Spirit, and the antidote to autonomy.
All-In is Obeying
Autonomy screams like a little kid – “You can’t tell me what to do!” But Jesus does! He says if you want to follow me then deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow. What is that other than a call to obedience. Turn from self-love, self-rule, self-preservation, and obey me. In all my years of following Christ, I have realized two simple truths about obedience: (1) I usually know what obedience means, and (2) I most often find it hard to do. But plain and simple, choosing obedience daily in the little things is the antidote to autonomy. It says, “I’m not living by my own executive orders, I love Jesus and will keep His commandments.”
All-In is All Joy
One of the most destructive lies of the enemy is that following Jesus is a bore, a burden, a joy-killer. But the apostle Paul reasoned by Kingdom logic, that following Christ was actually “working for your joy” (2 Corinthians 1:24). Being All-In not only frees us from the super-sized burden of self, but All-In is about All-Joy. Your joy, my joy, the joy of a local church, with joy to spread to neighbors, co-workers, family and friends. As it turns out, All-In following Jesus is the deepest antidote to joy-less living and the path to passionate, lasting joy.
Friend, pursuing self-denial, self-sacrifice, and self-surrender is not really depriving yourself of anything, but delighting in all the good gifts of God, here on earth in anticipation of the glory to come. Join me in dropping those oversized loads of performance you were never meant to carry as you walk with an abiding heart!